COVID-19 Cases Spike in Flathead, Lake and Lincoln Counties

More than 70 new cases reported across three counties in two days; Sanders County reports first cases

By Myers Reece
Medical staff administer free drive-through COVID-19 testing at Polson High School on June 19, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Flathead County has reported 18 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the last two days, while Lake County added 27 cases in a single day.

Lincoln County, which health officials say is a particularly high-risk area due to the prevalence of asbestos-related respiratory diseases, has reported 26 new cases over the last two days, more than doubling its total to 40 cases altogether.

Sanders County also reported on July 13 its first three COVID-19 cases since the virus was first detected in Montana.

Meanwhile, in Yellowstone County, the eighth death in a week related to an outbreak at an assisted-living facility was reported on July 14.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases have spiked across Montana, with the seven highest single-day totals occurring over an eight-day span between July 6-13. The 109 new cases announced on July 14, based on cases reported the previous day, are the second most in Montana since the pandemic began.

Flathead County now has reported 84 cases altogether, while Lake County has reported 80. Those figures are the fifth and sixth most in the state, respectively.

There are 31 active resident cases in Flathead County and three active nonresident cases being monitored. There have been eight nonresident cases in the county in total.

Yellowstone County leads the state in cases and deaths, with 557 and 13, fueled by an outbreak at the Canyon Creek Memory Care assisted-living facility, with eight resident deaths in a week, including a new death announced today. RiverStone Health, Yellowstone County’s public health department, also reported the death of a resident from the MorningStar Senior Living assisted-living facility.

Montana has confirmed 1,952 cases, including 1,034 active cases, and 34 deaths and 884 recoveries, as of July 14. There are 29 active hospitalizations. The state has completed 121,396 tests to date.

In a Facebook update, the Lincoln County Health Department said 33 of the county’s 40 cases are active, including 28 active cases in Libby. The health department said 26 of those 28 active cases are part of a cluster in the town.

When the county’s first cases were reported in March, Dr. Brad Black, medical director of the Center for Asbestos Related Diseases (CARD) and the Lincoln County Health Officer, noted that the area has “the highest rate of asbestos mortality in the United States.” A Lincoln County man was the state’s first death caused by COVID-19.

“Now with the COVID-19 infections, the current population is at very high risk of increased mortality and morbidity above and beyond what other communities might experience,” Dr. Black said in March.

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